Thinking Anglicans

Making of Women Bishops in Kenya

Canon Francis Omondi wrote this article which appeared in The Star: Making of Women Bishops in Kenya

…There is a swelling tide in support for women bishops among Christians. Kenyan Anglicans are visibly ready for women bishops. Already the Diocese of Eldoret in its Synod sitting in December 2013 had approved overwhelmingly to elect women bishops. No one epitomises the mood of the support for women bishops than Rev Elijah Yego, an influential clergy of the diocese who was the face of opposition to women becoming priests, was unusually vocal in support for women bishops in this synod, having been won over by what he termed ‘their superior ministry’.

The Diocese of Maseno West, in their August 2014 ordinary synod session, approved unanimously the ordination of women bishops. Justifying the vote the Bishop of Maseno West and Dean of the ACK, the Rt Rev Joseph Wasonga said the Kenyan church understood the ministry to be a functional office; “Ministry belongs to all who are baptised, be they men or women, and as such no one can deny the other an opportunity to serve in whatever capacity,” he said.

But the more significant development was the formal nomination of a woman priest Rev Canon Rosemary Mbogo, the Provincial Secretary of ACK and also chairman of NCCK, to vie for bishopric election in Embu. She was second clergy to be nominated after Rev Dr Lydia Mwaniki for Kirinyaga diocesan. Had she been successful we would have had our first Kenyan woman bishop in 2014 before the CoE…

There has already been comment made about this in an article by Colin Coward headed Making women bishops in Kenya, the impact on GAFCON and implications for human sexuality divisions. He notes:

…The Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, although Chairman of the conservative GAFCON Primates’ Council, supports moves to ensure that the path is clear to enable AKC to elect its first woman bishop. Last year he wrote to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Kenya asking that they approve amendments to the language of the church’s constitution erasing any doubts that women priests are eligible for election to the episcopate.

The question of the ordination of women as priests, let alone bishops, is a potential make or break issue for GAFCON. It’s a divisive issue for ACNA and a potent issue of division between the powerful Nigerian Church which opposes the ordination of women and other African Provinces which do ordain women and will remain fully committed to their full inclusion. Some of the Kenyan bishops who support women in the episcopate also support a change in Church attitudes to LGBTI people.

It often looks to those of us campaigning for the full inclusion of LGBTI people that we face an incredibly powerful and intransigent conservative block in GAFCON, a block which repeatedly claims ultimate power because it ‘represents’ the majority in the Anglican Communion. In reality, GACON faces a challenge potentially far more divisive than human sexuality. The place of women in the ministry of the Church affects 51% of the world’s population. Divisions over the ordination of women could be the downfall of GAFCON and change the whole dynamic within the Anglican Communion.

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9 years ago

Oh dear. I don’t want to endorse poor theological reasoning or what I consider to be a totally inadequate theology of Episcopacy, just because I share a position on the ordination of women to the Episcopate. However almost anything that weakens the position of GAFCON is welcome.

Jean Mayland
Jean Mayland
9 years ago

A real sign of hope!

9 years ago

Colin Coward writes this:

‘Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College, Toronto Canada, observed that “within North America, churches like the Anglican Church in North America that have separated from the Episcopal and Canadian churches, are moving in a direction that may well prohibit women’s ordination altogether.”’

True? If yes, then wow. Just wow.

This is what happens when you pay heed to scripture and tradition, but omit reason from your hermeneutic.

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
9 years ago

I think you would have to be very ignorant of the real people in the Anglican Communion not to realise that there are deep divisions wherever you look. Once they had separated themselves there was only one way forward for those united in their hatred of gay people and that was ….. To fall upon each other! The LGBTI groups I was aware of predicted this with deep sadness from the off. What has always been the question was just how the Sydney contingent would deal with women bishops (and catholics!) amongst their allies. They are not going to deal… Read more »

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